Tributes paid to a Manchester legend as Sir Howard Bernstein dies aged 71

He typified local government at its very best.

Danny Jones Danny Jones - 22nd June 2024

Tributes are pouring in following the death of Manchester legend Sir Howard Bernstein, who sadly passed away at the age of 71 on Saturday morning following a period of illness.

Bernstein, the former chief executive of Manchester City Council who worked his way up through local office after starting as a junior clerk at the age of 18 back in the 1970s, is considered to be one of our most important figures and cultural contributors in the city’s history.

The Cheetham Hill-born councillor, who finished his career helping lead the UK’s Sustainability and Transformation plan footprint (STPs), retired back in 2017 but his legacy here in 0161 spans generations and is credited with helping bring the city into the 21st century.

He leaves behind his wife Vanessa and two children.

As you can see, countless local figures and peers who have undoubtedly followed his example over the past few decades have been paying tribute to the legend of local government, along with Mancunians who simply admired his work as a passionate and beyond-loyal city servant.


Tom Bloxham MBE, chair of Manchester International Festival and local developers Urban Splash, said, “So sad to hear this morning”, while former Granada News reporter Rob McLoughlin called it “A tremendous loss to a city which looked battered and maybe economically finished in the early 80s.”

Manchester Evening News labelled him “a true hero” and the City Council’s Deputy Leader Luthfur Rahman OBE wrote: “Sad day for Manchester. Howard was a great public servant, he had the vision and ability to bring different stakeholders together to deliver for Manchester.”


The MCC’s full statement on his passing should tell you everything you need to know about how important a character Howard was in this city’s story.

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Council Leader Bev Craig summed up his contributions perfectly, writing: “He had boundless energy, strategic vision and a passion for Manchester.

“In 46 years at the Council, serving as chief executive between 1998 and 2017, he played an integral role in the regeneration and economic growth of the city, from the city centre’s resurgence after the 1996 IRA bomb and the 2002 Commonwealth Games and transformation of East Manchester to the creation and extension of Metrolink.  


“He was also integral in the establishment of strong working relationships between the 10 Greater Manchester councils, culminating in the establishment of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority in 2011 and a series of historic devolution agreements which transferred power and resources away from Westminster and Whitehall to our region. He leaves an incredible legacy in the transformation of the city.”

Simply put, Manchester would not be anywhere near where it is today without Howard Bernstein and we have him to thank for a lot of what makes this modern, thriving city so great.

Our thoughts are will his loved ones at this difficult time. Rest in peace to a legend and thank you.

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Featured Images — University of Manchester/NCVO London (via Flickr)